J&J analyst day tries to focus on drug business with talc baby powder under fire

Alex Gorsky, CEO of Johnson & Johnson

Adam Jeffery | CNBC

Johnson & Johnson’s pharmaceutical business will take the spotlight Wednesday at its annual meeting with analysts as the company tries to allay investors’ concerns over its talc-based baby powder.

The fresh Brunswick, fresh Jersey, based health-care conglomerate makes a wide range of products, including everyday household products like Tylenol, Neutrogena face wash in addition to Acuvue contacts as well as prescription drugs Xarelto in addition to Invokana. Prescription drugs are the biggest revenue driver for J&J, accounting for half of its $81.58 billion in 2018 sales. although its consumer products division has come under pressure amid thousands of lawsuits which accuse its namesake talc baby powder of causing cancer.

J&J plans to launch 10 fresh drugs by 2023, the item announced Wednesday. CEO Alex Gorsky said the company needs to stay focused despite the litigation.

“the item starts with our 100-plus-year performance of doing things in an appropriate in addition to responsible way, in addition to which’s certainly what we think we’ve done here, in addition to we have a very litigious industry,” he in an interview Wednesday with CNBC’s Meg Tirrell. “although what’s most important will be which we stay focused on serving customers, which we stay focused on innovation in addition to truly bringing these fresh products to market.”

The company faces thousands of lawsuits alleging its talc baby powder products contain asbestos in addition to caused ovarian cancer in addition to mesothelioma. A Reuters report in December said J&J knew for decades which its baby powder contained asbestos, a story the company called “an absurd conspiracy theory.”

“Of course we’re spending time educating our consumers about the issues which you raised, although here today again we’re going to be talking about these next several generations of products, in addition to I think which’s where most patients in addition to most consumers truly want us to stay focused to ensure ultimately look we can cure HIV, we can find a cure for Alzheimer’s in addition to some of these additional conditions we continue to work on,” Gorsky said.

While J&J’s pharma business keeps growing thanks to drugs like Stelara in addition to Remicade, its additional two units, consumer in addition to medical devices, have lagged. Still, Gorsky said the three businesses are better together.

“We think so because the item gives us an opportunity to find fresh health-care solutions wherever these opportunities may occur,” he said.

The company’s shares were little changed late morning Wednesday.

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